Go behind the scenes for an incredible look at two of Helsinki’s most avant-garde buildings, gain insight into the architect’s unique vision in designing Bordeaux’s groundbreaking cultural center or join an architectural historian for a one-of-a-kind tour of Italy’s first national museum for contemporary art. These are just a few of the fascinating experiences that await on our new Beyond Blueprints tours.
Distinguished by offering rare and in-depth experiences at some of the world’s most iconic architectural landmarks such as The Royal Library and The Blue Planet aquarium in Copenhagen, Denmark; the Equinor office building and the Munchmuseet in Oslo, Norway; and Torre Glòries Tower and Forum Building in Barcelona, Spain, these architecture tours are perfect for design lovers and seasoned travelers seeking fresh perspectives on favorite destinations. Each of these architecture tours offers special, little-known stories and insightful information about the reasoning and genius that brought these marvels to life. Read on for a look at a few of these top architecture tours in Europe.
Beyond Blueprints – Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Eye Museum & The Silodam
Follow an architectural historian through three striking 21st-century icons that have altered the face of Amsterdam and how their design challenges were overcome. The Eye Museum pays homage to the film industry and its geometric shape reflects the power of visual images. Like film, the building creates an interplay of reality and illusion. The Eye is particularly impressive in the way it has transformed a riverside area that was once an isolated wasteland. Similarly, The Whale apartment complex occupies a former harbor site. Although a high-density building, it maximizes light and space through an ingenious roof line that follows the movement of the sun. The Silodam is another architectural triumph as this waterside apartment complex is reminiscent of a fully laden container ship. Your architectural historian guide will explain the design details, such as how the different colors denote different “neighborhoods” within the village-like building.
Beyond Blueprints – Barcelona, Spain
Torre Glòries Tower & Forum Building
Walk through two modernistic buildings with an architectural historian that will describe their design challenges in vivid detail. Gain insight into the cutting-edge technologies used in the bullet-shaped Torre Glòries tower. Seeing it in person with an informed architect will shed light on the tower’s design and how it was achieved. In the same vein, learn how the futuristic Forum Building endured a rocky start to become a beloved icon. The expert guide will point out its bold technologies and use of materials of alternating textures and patterns. Be sure to ask why much of the building is lifted off the ground.
Beyond Blueprints – Bordeaux, France
La Méca & La Cité
Explore two boldly modern architectural masterpieces that make quite a contrast to the city’s hundreds of historical monuments. La Méca, the cultural center, rises about the banks of the Garonne River and appears to be in constant motion because of the highly unusual single-loop shape. Segue into the world of wine in La Cité museum devoted to Bordeaux’s namesake wines. The exhibits are meaningful and fascinating, while the 8th floor is an excellent spot for a glass of wine and to admire the 360° view of Bordeaux.
The Royal Library | Copenhagen, Denmark
Beyond Blueprints – Copenhagen, Denmark
The Royal Library & The Blue Planet
Browse two innovative buildings with an architectural historian to learn about their extraordinary designs. Gain insights into why the Black Diamond intentionally tilts and expands from top to bottom. The Blue Planet may be even more striking as you discover how the whirlpool-shaped aquarium defined architectural conventions and is the largest aquarium in Europe, inspired by the shape of water in endless motion. The exterior is covered in aluminum panels that are reminiscent of fish scales, while the interior curved ceiling evokes images of the baleens of a massive whale.
Beyond Blueprints – Helsinki, Finland
The Oodi Central Library & Helsinki Music Centre
See two of Helsinki’s most avant-garde buildings through the eyes of your architectural historian guide and come away with an eye-opening insider’s view. The façade of the Oodi Central Library boasts a striking undulating shape that celebrates Finland having one of the world’s highest literacy rates. Only a third of the library contains books, the rest being devoted to public spaces such as a recording studio, movie theatre, restaurants and top-floor Citizen’s Balcony. The innovative use of steel beams allowed the middle floor to be built without columns for an unobstructed view from one end to the other. Your guide will also detail the advanced technologies used to construct the Helsinki Music Centre. You will discover how acoustic technician Yasuhisa Toyota designed the main concert hall in a terraced, vineyard style so the audience surrounds the musicians. Much of the interior is underground to prevent the building from towering above the surrounding ones.
Beyond Blueprints – Oslo, Norway
Equinor & Munchmuseet
Discover how two extraordinarily modern buildings have transformed Oslo’s skyline and pushed the boundaries of design. An architectural historian will elaborate on the buildings’ advanced technologies and present a rare insider’s perspective of their construction. The iconic Equinor office building consists of five separate rectangular modules stacked on top of each other at different angles, all in effort to optimize daylight and views. Similarly, climate conditions influenced the design of the Munchmusset, a 13-story museum dedicated to the worlds of Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.
Beyond Blueprints – Rome, Italy
La Nuvola & MAXXI
Tour two modern centers for the arts with an architectural historian that will explain their cutting-edge designs and construction challenges. You will view La Nuvola, a convention center with an unusual cloud-like structure inside. Get an in-depth tour of MAXXI, Italy’s first national museum of contemporary art, where architect Zaha Hadid described her creation as a campus for art designed to embody the chaotic fluidity of modern life. Have lunch at the museum’s Mediterraneo restaurant and crown the experience with a visit at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, a remarkable music complex that architect Renzo Piano designed.
City of Arts & Sciences | Valencia, Spain
Beyond Blueprints – Valencia, Spain
Veles e Vente & City of Arts and Sciences
Discover how Valencia’s vision for the future is being realized by touring the most cutting-edge buildings with an architect that will offer an insider’s perspective of the innovative engineering behind the ground-breaking architecture. You will first behold Veles e Vente, the America’s Cup ultramodern, a symmetrical office building. Your architect guide will explain the designer’s intentions and the structural challenge that were overcome. The guide will delve deeper into the engineering story of the nearby City of Arts and Sciences, an avant-garde complex that has changed the very face of Valencia. Ten years in the making at triple the original budget, this iconic cluster of six buildings is the ambitious creation of local architect Santiago Calatrava. The project has been controversial since the building’s opening in 1998.
Hero image The Eye Museum | Amsterdam, Netherlands, courtesy of Oceania Cruises
All images provided by Oceania Cruises